Netanyahu government cracking over budget

Sunday, July 18, 2010 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government has managed thus far to weather the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, despite being composed of right-wing and left-wing parties whose policies strongly conflict. But the national budget may prove to be too much for the fragile coalition to handle.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (from Netanyahu's own Likud Party) has put together a two-year budget that includes cuts across the board as Israel continues to recover from more trying economic times. Netanyahu and Steinitz are strongly opposed to raising taxes in order to keep inflated ministry budgets at their current levels, and existing tax revenues are simply not enough to support them.

Notably, billions of shekels have been cut from Israel's defense, internal security, immigration and tourism ministry budgets. Naturally, the ministers for each insist that their ministry cannot take such a hit, and have threatened to vote against the budget when it goes before the Knesset.

The two largest parties in Netanyahu's coalition, the right-wing Israel Beiteinu and the left-wing Labor parties, have both said they will oppose the budget in the plenum.

If the budget fails to pass - and with Israel Beiteinu, Labor and the opposition Kadima Party all voting against it, that is a real possibility - Netanyahu could be forced to accept budget amendments that greatly burden the Israeli taxpayers. Otherwise, his government could face a vote of no-confidence that has a very real chance of passing.

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